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How to design effective test items for your course.

An important part of delivering a successful course is to measure how well your students have understood the content and how well equipped they are to apply the learning in real life.

To ensure that your students understand the content easily, your content needs to be relevant, specific, and engaging. Correct use of visual assets, interactive elements, and succinct language helps transform an average course into a super effective course. 

The other part is measuring the effectiveness itself.

Designing practice exercises and/or graded assessments challenging and as close to real life as possible are accepted ways of measuring the effectiveness of the course.

Here are some ideas to raise the level of your practice/assessment items:

  • Use realistic scenarios to pose questions. This helps elicit emotions in the learner and this personal stake raises the level of quiz.
  • Don’t make the question too easy or too difficult. A question that’s too easy to answer doesn’t challenge the learner’s cognitive faculties and instills a false sense of accomplishment. Similarly, a question that’s way higher than the level of course content sends the cognitive faculties into survival mode and affects the motivation in a negative manner. That’s a set up for failure.
  • Pose distractors (incorrect options) that are plausible and mutually exclusive.  Each option that is meant to act as a distractor should be able to stand by itself. These options should be constructed in a way that there’s no change of applying the rule of elimination.
  • Provide diagnostic feedback. One of the most common mistakes course creators make is providing prescriptive feedback, i.e. limiting the feedback to saying “Right/Wrong” and stating the correct answer. Instead, to help the learner internalize the knowledge, provide diagnostic feedback. Tell the learner why their chosen answer is incorrect instead of just saying it’s incorrect. 
  • Guide the learner towards the correct answer but don’t give away the answer. This again speaks to maintaining a level of difficulty that challenges the learner but doesn’t junk their motivation.

So, there you have it! Some easy ways to deliver effective content and measure the effectiveness thereof.

Thereafter, analyze how many students are able to answer the questions with the aforementioned conditions in place. 

How do you test your learners’ understanding of your course? 

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